Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Program

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To build the Lehigh of the future, Lehigh University launched the Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Scholars Program.  Our University is dedicated to the Principles of our Equitable Community and committed to creating diverse, inclusive, and scholarly climates.  This initiative is designed to create an outstanding professional opportunity for scholars with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, including those historically underrepresented in the academy, who possess a commitment to inclusive excellence as they prepare for future tenure track appointments at Lehigh or elsewhere.  Scholars from a range of disciplines represented at Lehigh can be eligible to apply into Qualified Host Units as Postdoctoral Scholars in the Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Program. The participating postdoctoral scholars will receive support towards developing a portfolio of experiences and scholarship or creative works suitable for future faculty positions. Following two (up to three) years of a successful postdoctoral experience, scholars will have the opportunity to be considered for assistant professor positions in a relevant Lehigh department, and remain part of our vibrant, collaborative, intellectual and welcoming community.

Meet the first cohort here.

The application for the second cohort (2024-2026) will open in December 2023. Appointments may begin between July 1, 2024 and October 15, 2024.

The second cohort application has closed and review is under way.

Groups historically underrepresented in the academy are: women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, first-generation students, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Gathering about Postdoc Supports
  • Gathering about Postdoc Supports with Provost and VPR
  • Gathering about Postdoc Supports

About the Program

Goals of the Program

Aligned with Lehigh University's Principles of our Equitable Community and in support of our Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Plan 2021-2026, the goals of the Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Program are to:

  • Enhance the diversity and skills of future faculty at Lehigh, or similar institutions, by accepting outstanding scholars with diverse social group identities, including those historically underrepresented in the academy (women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, first-generation students, and members of the LGBTQ+ community). Participating scholars must show a demonstrated commitment to cultivating and contributing to an inclusive faculty and an inclusive academic experience for all students.
  • Provide enriching research experiences and pre-faculty professional development in a top-notch and collaborative environment to outstanding, diverse postdoctoral scholars who aspire to be faculty at Lehigh, or similar institutions,
  • Welcome each scholar into an academic setting prepared to provide resources, infrastructure, and relationships necessary for future faculty career success.
  • Enhance research creativity and productivity through networked opportunities that improve the learning environment, research collaborations, and capacity of all our members. 
What are the benefits of this postdoctoral program?
  • Talented scholars interested in pursuing the professoriate, especially at Lehigh, should apply to this program to make fast gains in establishing their independent research careers. This program will strongly benefit scholars with a commitment to mentorship, professional development specific to research/creative works, and teaching areas of interest.
  • Scholars will have a competitive salary (minimum $65,000), full employee benefits (including contributions to retirement), and $10,000 per year professional funds for use towards conferences, travel, professional development, research supplies, etc. Up to $2,000 of the professional development funds can be used for relocation, following federal tax and university policy.  
  • Scholars starting in 2023-2024 will be part of the inaugural cohort. They will form a communitiy of up to 10 postdoctoral scholars in this program, which will grow with each subsequent cohort.
  • Scholars, with endorsement of their mentors, departments, and dean, will have the opportunity to to be considered for assistant professor positions.
Who is eligible for this program?
  • Applicants must hold a doctoral degree in any of the disciplines at Lehigh University by the time of the appointment.
  • The doctoral degree should have been earned within the last three years prior to potential appointment; however, if it was earned before that, explain why this program makes sense given the scholar's situation. 
  • If the candidate's PhD was earned at Lehigh, they may be eligible. Scholars may have postdoctoral appointment elsewhere, or they may apply to a department outside the one in which their PhD was earned. please reach out to if you have other questions. 
  • Scholars with social group identities, including those historically underrepresented in the academy (women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, first-generation students, and members of the LGBTQ+ community), are encouraged to apply. 
  • Candidates must be authorized to work in the USA at the time of appointment. The application will ask:  (1) do you have US work authorization? and (2) do you/will you need visa sponsorship? 
  • Current Lehigh University postdoctoral associates are eligible if they will have one year or less postdoctoral experience before the potential appointment.
  • Current Lehigh University Visiting Assistant Professors are eligible. 
  • Individuals currently working at Lehigh University as Teaching Assistant Professors are not eligible. 
What is a qualified host department?

A qualified host department (or program or research institute) is one that has demonstrated a track record for cultivating a supportive and professional environment for diverse scholars to thrive. Departments must put forward documentation to the dean and Executive Committee in the form of a "Proposal to Host" plan in Infoready. All departments /academic units can be qualified hosts. Where department is used here, we refer to the main scholarly unit of hire, scholarly contribution and evaluation. 

The Proposal to Host plan must:

  • describe attributes of the department's supportive environment and ongoing commitments and activities to enhancing diversity, inclusion and equity. This will include describing the strategy (implemented already or planned for the future) for supporting faculty from historically underrepresented backgrounds,

  • detail how the new postdoctoral scholar will be welcomed and onboarded,

  • describe teaching expectation, if any,

  • articulate preliminary mentorship and professional development commitments (via mentoring plan; Future Faculty Development Plan, FFDP),

  • describe financial resource commitment (50% cost share with the Program) to attract and ultimately retain scholars through the postdoctoral period, 

  • outline the vision for the path for the scholar to be considered for a Lehigh tenure track position.

  • a recruitment plan.

Proposal making can involve consultation with the Program's Executive Committee before the due date (October 27, 2023).  Individual FFDPs will be customized based on the needs of the interviewed scholars who are selected for appointment and then finalized after appointment.

We are building from the Community Readiness for Change Edwards et al., 2000 and the work of UMD AGEP/RISEUPP Culpepper et al., 2021
Broad selection criteria

Successful applicants for the Program will be selected on the basis of scholarly promise and potential to contribute to the pursuit of the educational benefits of a diverse campus community. 

Applicants must have completed their terminal degree by the time of appointment and should be no more than three years beyond receiving their Ph.D. 

Meet the Scholars

In the inaugural year of the program identified and successfully hired six scholars. Learn about them here

Roles, Expectations and Terms

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee partners with the ADVANCE Center, deans, departments and programs in the following ways: 

  • screens applications and routes files for review
  • reviews proposals to be a host department, and suggests recommendations for improvements, if need be, so the final plans are comprehensive and strong
  • ensures postdocs engage in meaningful research/creative activities, professional development, (and teaching where applicable) setting them up for successful future tenure-track positions at Lehigh or elsewhere. 
  • considers the Individual Future Faculty Development Plans plans and the mentee and mentor semester reports and can provide feedback or recommendations to the dean's office, departments and programs in order to support the needs and development of the postdoctoral scholars. 
  • advises on and/or plans the suite of postdoctoral professional development events for the cohort

The current members of the Executive Committee are: Drs. Shalinee Kishore, Marci Levine, Chris Liang, Henry Odi, Dominic Packer, Joan Ramage, K. Sivakumar ("Siva") .

Role of Hosting Unit: Department, Program or Research Institute (Chairs and Directors)
Departments, Programs and Research Institutes, even Colleges can host a postdoctoral scholar in this program. Where department is used here, we refer to the main scholarly unit of hire, scholarly contribution and evaluation. 
  • Current faculty members are expected to cooperatively submit a Proposal to Host. A Guide for the Proposal to Host can be found on Infoready. They should confer with the dean early and demonstrate alignment for this method of recruitment across department and college goals. Departments with questions or seeking guidance on the Proposal can contact Apply on Infoready. 
  • The Department Chair of a host department is accountable for the plan described in the accepted proposal and for experience of the hired postdoctoral scholar, and thus:
    • will meet regularly with the mentors and also with the mentees to discuss and align expectations, goals, and progress. 
    • should coordinate with the mentor(s) to welcome and network the fellow across the Lehigh Community.
    • can use guides for these expectation and progress monitoring conversations (will be found in the Hosting Guide).
  • Current faculty are expected to play an active role in integrating the postdoctoral scholar into the life of the department, program, or research institute.

Mentors will meet regularly with the fellow to help establish connections, professional goals, and discuss progress. Guides for these meetings, including the faculty development plan and templates for mentor reports will be provided to mentors.

Mentors will also meet regularly with the department chair.

Postdoctoral Scholar Expectations and Responsibilities

Each postdoctoral scholar is expected to be in residence at Lehigh University, per the operating status of the University.

Upon acceptance, postdocs will be contacted about onboarding.

Postdocs will meet regularly with their mentor(s), usually weekly; and meet at least once per semester with the department chair. 

Each Postdoc will create a Individual Future Faculty Development Plan with their mentor(s). This should be reviewed each semester and submitted to Plans should be organized to support establishing goals and aligning resources or opportunities for the following domains: 

  1. developing your research/creative work towards independent scholarship
  2. teaching work (if it is part of overall expectations)
  3. professional development goals through participation in department and college meetings, other events or utilization of resources

As the Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Program is designed to help the postdoctoral scholar build a research portfolio toward their future academic success, it will be up to the department to determine if and how much the scholar is required to teach courses at Lehigh University (maximum one course per year). For those that are not instructors of record, they may deliver occasional guest lectures, for example. Even if the agreed to development plan does not include teaching courses, the postdoctoral scholars are expected to participate in professional development about teaching and learning.

Expectations for producing research/creative works are the main priority of this postdoctoral experience. Thus, each fellow is expected to present at least one research seminar or colloquium on the Lehigh University campus during each academic year of the fellowship. They should also present their work at a national or international conferences. 

Postdocs in this program are encouraged to participate in grant and foundation proposal writing and in outreach activities, in addition to the customary activities of postdoctoral fellows of research, publication, and presentation.

Postdoctoral Scholar Terms

Lehigh University will provide the Program's postdoctoral scholars placement in at least one host laboratory, academic program, or department in their area of academic interest or specialty. Scholars will have an office, computer, phone, and access to the libraries and related tools for research. The faculty members and the host department chairs agree to furnish the laboratory and/or office space, supplies, and access to needed equipment and research supports for the scholar's proposed research/creative work and/or teaching for the entire period.

Lehigh University will provide the scholar with at least one faculty member to serve as a mentor.

Lehigh University will appoint each Postdoctoral Scholar for a 12-month term with the potential to renew for two or possibly three additional years.  Scholars whose appointment begins at the start of the 2024-2025 academic year will receive an annual salary of $65,000 plus health care benefits, as well as $10,000 toward conference travel and other research-related and professional development expenses. Up to $2,000 (taxable, and per policy) can be used for relocation

Scholars who are successful in the Advancing Future Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Program may be considered for faculty appointments at Lehigh University. They are not required to accept a faculty appointment as a condition of their appointment, nor is the university obligated to offer a faculty appointment upon completion of the program. The program is intended as a step towards development as a potential faculty member at Lehigh University or another institution of higher education. 

2024-2026 Cohort Process for Review and Selection

Postdoctoral Applicant Expected Timeline
These are estimated dates.
  • December, 2023 Application open. Executive Committee reviews and routes complete applications to prospective unit and corresponding dean as suggested by the application.
  • March 1, 2024 Applications due, including Letters of Recommendation.
  • March-May 2024: On campus interviews (up to 2 days, with prospective faculty mentors, department chair, director, dean, faculty collaborators and Executive Committee). 
  • June 2024: Letters announcing decision, including offers of selection, sent to finalists.
  • Two weeks after letters sent to finalist: Signed acceptance from postdoctoral scholars due.
  • Summer 2024: Newly appointed postdocs should anticipate some onboarding prior to physically reporting to campus for start date. Newly appointed postdocs should review this information in anticipation of their arrival.
  • July 2024-October 2024: Start date, as agreed. Flexibility is possible in the start date between 1 July 2024 and 30 October 2024, though it is ideal to start early in academic calendar for fall professional development and mentoring.
Academic Hosting Unit, Expected Timeline

These are estimated dates, depending on scale of interest and other factors, exact dates may be modified. Departments expressing formal interest will be updated of changes directly.  

  • September 22, 2023: Proposal to Host opens. Remember proposal preparation should be thought of as a cooperative process and may be revised and approved after an iterative consultation with the program's Executive Committee to increase the likelihood of a successful match and experience for all.
  • October 27, 2023: All consultations complete and Proposal to Host due
  • November 20, 2023: Departments notified and job ad language finalization begins.
  • December 2023: Call for postdoc applications opens with agreed department specific job ad language
  • March 1, 2024: Postdoc Applications Close and Reviews begin (complete applications routed to indicated department)
  • March-May 2024 campus inerviews expected. Final evaluations and recommendation for selecting postdoc submitted. This includes any customized updates to the recommended postdocs' onboarding and career development plans
  • June, 2024 Decision letters and offer letters go out to applicants after final review of plans (mentoring and financial)
  • Summer 2024: Onboarding begins in anticipation of start date between 1 July 2024 and 30 October 2024, though it is ideal to start early in the academic calendar for fall professional development and mentoring.

Appreciations and References


It is important to recognize the range of nationwide programs and national and local expertise and support which informed this approach at Lehigh University. 

This initiative at Lehigh University is a direct outcome of the 2020 call for Creative Ideas to Transform Lehigh into an Anti-Racist Institution. We especially wish to acknowledge the proposal submitted by the team of Drs. Sirry Alang, Kristen Jellison, Shalinee Kishore, Joan Ramage and Jennifer Swann and the proposal submitted by Dr. Peter Zeitler which greatly informed the vision and details of this Program.  

We also wish to thank Dr. Autumn Reed and Dr. Dawn Culpepper for their time discussing their research and insights during the May 2022 Equity in STEM Community Convening.

Photo credit on this page: Christa Neu


Useful References

Culpepper D, Reed AM, Enekwe B, Carter-Veale W, LaCourse WR, McDermott P, Cresiski RH. A New Effort to Diversify Faculty: Postdoc-to-Tenure Track Conversion Models. Front Psychol. 2021 Nov 5;12:733995. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.733995. PMID: 34803811; PMCID: PMC8603562.

Ferguson K., Chen L., Costello T. (2021). “Growing Progress in Supporting Postdocs 2021,” in National Postdoctoral Association Institutional Policy Report, (Triangle Park, NC: Sigma Xi; ).

Patt C, Eppig A, Richards MA. Postdocs as Key to Faculty Diversity: A Structured and Collaborative Approach for Research Universities. Front Psychol. 2022 Apr 25;12:759263. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.759263. PMID: 35547154; PMCID: PMC9083322.